Thursday, April 18, 2013

Christianity Unmasked Judaism vs. Christianity

Christianity Unmasked
A brief word of caution before you begin reading. I will be speaking ill of Christianity and its founder. I will not mince my words; stop here if you don’t want to go there.
I will make another introductory statement. I recognize full well that Christians have done much good for mankind and that Christianity has incorporated much that is holy. I recognize also that throughout history and until today there were many truly righteous Christians; sincere men and women whose lives reflected sheer Godliness. I do not deny these facts and I cannot deny them. I will however remind you that the tree that brought death to this world was not the tree of evil. It was the tree of good and evil. It is the mixture of good and evil that is so deadly. Yes; there is good in Christianity, and yes; many people have built their lives on that good and have lit up the world with righteousness. But so many more have focused on the evil side of Christianity and filled the world with pain, darkness and death. It is that evil side of Christianity to which I draw your attention in these paragraphs.
One final introductory statement before I begin. I am a Jew and I speak as a Jew. My religious background gives me a unique perspective of Christianity. I look at Christianity from the vantage point of a belief system that Christianity cannot disavow. All of the theological claims of Christianity stand on the basis of the revelation that was first granted to the Jewish people. But that same revelation contradicts everything that Christianity has introduced into the thought process of humanity. For 2000 years the Church has attempted to shut the mouth of the Jew who would dare expose her fault-lines. The time has come to end that silence.
Modus Operandi
The most prized possession of mankind is the truth. Truth is also the most powerful possession of humanity. Truth is virtually indestructible. Mighty empires have fallen because they ran afoul of one universal truth or another. Truth cannot be destroyed, but it can be manipulated and exploited for the advancement of falsehood.
There are several ways that falsehood can take advantage of truth. By combining falsehood with truth and presenting the mixture as pure unadulterated truth, falsehood can then enjoy the popularity and credibility of truth. By associating oneself with a particular truth a teacher of falsehood can attempt to take the credit as the originator of that truth. And by presenting a distorted version of the truth, an institution of lies can attempt to set itself up as the sole distributor of truth.
This then is the modus operandi of Christianity; it has exploited the truth for the advancement of the lie. This institution and her teachers have taken certain universal truths and combined them with some of her own teachings. The spread of this mixture was accelerated because of the truth it contains. The Church has enjoyed the credibility associated with these truths because people failed to discern between that which is originally Christian and that which is the true possession of all mankind. Christianity has also falsely claimed to be the originator of certain truths that do not belong to her. And finally and most seriously, the Church has set herself up as the sole distributor of truths that belong to everyone.
We shall examine several basic truths associated with Christianity and we intend to expose how she has exploited them for her advantage. These are; the universal principles of justice and charity, the inherent Godliness of man, the testimony of the Jewish nation, the Jewish Scriptures, the Messianic hope and the relationship that man shares with God. These truths are the most precious possessions of mankind, they belong to everybody. But the Church has distorted these truths so that millions were misled to believe that they can only be acquired at her altar.
The Universal Principles of Justice and Charity
The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3 – 7:27) is perhaps one of the most famous teachings of Christianity. In this Sermon, Jesus presents some basic and beautiful truths. The basic principles of morality, justice and kindness are articulated in this teaching clearly and concisely. But if you step back and look at the literary structure of the book of Matthew, the Sermon on the Mount takes on a different character entirely.
The underlying theme of the book of Matthew (and Christianity as a whole) is the exaltation of Jesus and the emphasis of humanity’s “need” for Jesus. The author of the book of Matthew presents the Sermon on the Mount not so much as a teaching on how to live a moral life but as an argument for the superiority of Jesus. Immediately after the Sermon (Matthew7:28,29) the author tells us how the crowds were amazed at the teaching; not because of the beauty of the truths they contained, but because Jesus spoke with incomparable “authority”. Key segments of the Sermon are introduced with the phrase: “You have heard that it was said to them of old time” and contrasted with “But I (Jesus) say to you”. This literary device accentuates the fictitious notion that Jesus is the originator of these universal truths and that they were unknown to mankind until Jesus uttered them to his audience.
But this is false. These universal principles of justice and charity were planted by the Creator into the heart of every man and woman; they belong to all of us. Every one of us is sensitive to an injustice that we suffer at the hands of another. We are all acutely aware that injustice is wrong and evil when we find ourselves at the receiving end of an injustice. This is the guide that our Creator gave us all to teach us these universal principles. Every civilization has produced individuals who have brought greater clarity to these universal principles through the lives they lived and through the words they uttered. Clarifying and articulating these universal principles is good and Godly; falsely claiming to be the originator of these universal principles is not.
The Inherent Godliness of Mankind
Man was created in the image of God. Even after Adam’s fall, the Bible still points to this basic truth as the underlying basis for the prohibition against murder (Genesis 9:6). This Biblical truth has many ramifications not least of which is the fact that every human being is inherently capable of living a Godly life. The capability for righteousness is an integral part of every human soul.
Christianity has set itself up in opposition to this truth but at the same time it has exploited this truth in a deep and insidious way.
Christianity contends that man is inherently evil. The Church theologians have emphasized Biblical passages that speak of man’s proclivity towards evil and of the fallibility of humanity. The teachers of Christianity have highlighted the negative side of the history of man, the wars, the cruelty and the immorality in order to establish her teaching that man is bad. According to the Church, it is only acceptance of Jesus into one’s heart that can alter this sorry state of affairs. Christianity asserts that man is evil until he bends his heart towards Jesus. Faith in Jesus, it is taught, generates a “new birth” that produces a “new person” who is now inherently inclined towards righteousness and holiness.
This false teaching affects the Christian mind in two different areas; in the way Christians view non-Christians and in the way Christians view themselves.
One who believes the Church teaching on the inherent evil of man will find it difficult to acknowledge any goodness in non-Christians (or in Christians who are defined as heretical). After all, these people were never “born again” so how could they be Godly? In the more extreme forms of this world-view, non-Christians are viewed as enemies of God. It is no coincidence that the same institution that denied the Biblical truth of the second half of Genesis 9:6 is the same institution that most often violated the commandment expressed in the first half of that same verse.
The effect of the Christian teaching on the inherent evil of humanity is even more pronounced in the way Christians view themselves. When a Christian accepts Jesus and when this same Christian finds in his or her heart a capacity for righteousness they will automatically credit Jesus for this blessing. “After all”, the Christian reasons, “on my own I am completely evil; it must be my new birth in Jesus that brought this goodness into my heart”. The Church’s distorted teaching on the nature of man acts as a stranglehold on the minds of those who believe this teaching. These people are lead to believe that if they abandon their faith in Jesus they will become evil people.
All of us have a capacity for Godliness and righteousness; it is a gift that God has granted all of humanity. Many people fail to actuate this gift but we all possess it. There are many strategies that can be used to bring forth man’s inherent capacity for goodness, and under certain circumstances, belief in Jesus can serve as this trigger. But the historical record has demonstrated that belief in Jesus can just as easily be used to bring forth man’s capacity for evil and destruction. The fact remains that the Godliness that is innate to every human soul is in no way related to belief in Jesus, rather it is part and parcel of the original creation of all men. The claim that belief in Jesus is what produces this capacity is simply a strategy that has been used by the Church to control the hearts and the minds of her followers.
The Testimony of the Jewish Nation
The Jewish people take up a unique position in the saga of human history. The Jewish people bear a message of One God who is the Master of all nature. The Jewish people are associated with a holy law, a law of morality, justice and charity. The Jewish people present an unparalleled claim of a covenant with God, a covenant confirmed with miracles that affected nations in the world of objective reality.
All of these together lend an aura of credibility to Israel’s message. The prophet’s of Israel are respected on the basis of Israel’s unique standing amongst the nations. Israel’s universal message carries a certain weight in the minds of men because of this aura of credibility that surrounds the Jewish people.
The Church has exploited Israel’s credibility in her effort to advance her own agenda. The Church presents itself as the culmination and fulfillment of anything credible associated withIsrael. Christianity took the Jewish Bible and claimed it for herself. Christianity tookIsrael’s Messianic hope and reconstructed it for her own purposes. Christianity tookIsrael’s covenant and made it her own. And Christianity took Israel’s God and redefined Him to fit her own theological claims. I will elaborate on each of these in the next few paragraphs, but first let us stop and see what the Church has done to the Jewish people.
The eternal Jewish community testifies against all of the claims of the Church. It was important to the Church thatIsraelshould lose her credibility in the eyes of men. If Israel’s voice was still going to be heard in the collective pool of human thought the Church needed to discredit her testimony. And this is exactly what the Church has done.
The Church presented Israel’s rejection of Jesus as a turning point in the history of the nation from whom she stole all her blessings. The authors of the Christian Scriptures and the early Church Fathers taught the world that Jews and Judaism can no longer be trusted. For years the Church has taught that she alone is the true Israel. While this teaching is not as widespread as it used to be, the distrust of Israe lthat this teaching has generated is still firmly in place. The Church has taught the world that the word “Pharisee” is a synonym for “hypocrisy”. John’s Jesus taught the world that the Jews are children of the Devil and as such, are the living incarnation of falsehood. The Church exerted herself to discredit the testimony of the Jew.
The Jew was trustworthy enough to establish the credibility of her covenant with God, her prophets and her Messianic vision. But now that the Church has all of these safely in her own arms, the Jew has become the quintessential liar.
The Jewish Scriptures
The Jewish Bible is a document of incredible power. The universal appeal of this collection of books is unmatched in the literary history of mankind. The searing rebuke of Jeremiah, the Messianic vision presented by Isaiah and the simple trust in God of Psalmist have touched the hearts of men for thousands of years. The Church has exploited the power of the Jewish Bible with the claim that she alone is the complete fulfillment of the hope and promise expressed in its pages.
The problem that the Church faced was that the Jewish Bible exposes her flaws. If one approaches the Jewish Bible from within the context of the pre-Christian world-view, which is actually the only true context of the Jewish Bible, then every doctrine of the Church will be revealed as a lie. According to the Jewish Bible, the deification of any inhabitant of God’s earth is idolatry, the greatest rebellion against God. The Jewish Bible NEVER associates forgiveness from sin with faith in an individual. The Messianic hope presented by the Jewish prophets includes all of mankind and is no way limited to the members of one denomination of Christianity or another. And the Messiah of the Jewish Bible will direct everyone’s devotion to the One Creator of heaven and earth; not to himself.
The Church has used several strategies in her effort to neutralize the message of the Hebrew prophets. For many long centuries, the Catholic popes simply forbade the reading of the book. Another tactic that the Church has used to silence the Jewish prophets was by pointing to her own clergy as the sole interpreters of the text. These techniques were quite effective in their time.
For various sociological reasons, these two strategies are no longer as popular as they used to be. The Church still has two other methods that it uses to mitigate the message of the Jewish Bible. The first of these strategies is the creation of the Christian Scriptures. The Church disregarded the simple fact that the same standard that was used to determine the canonical status of the books of the Jewish Bible would have decidedly INVALIDATED the books of the Christian Scriptures. Ignoring this basic truth, the Church placed her books side by side with the books of the Jewish prophets. The Church took this strategy one step further and renamed the Jewish Scripture with the disparaging title; “Old Testament”. The thrust of this strategy is that no-one will dream of reading the Jewish Scriptures with a pre-Christian world-view. The mind of the reader is predisposed to believe that the story of the “Old Testament” is not complete until he or she has read through to the Christian book of Revelations. And this strategy creates a preconception about the Jewish Scriptures as if it is a book that has “had its day” and is no longer relevant to a world that has progressed above and beyond.
The second strategy employed by the Church in her effort to silence the voice of the Jewish prophets is by misrepresenting the literary structure of the Bible. As it is with any work of literature, the Jewish Bible contains highlights and climaxes. The prophets used various literary devices to emphasize certain events and certain teachings. Having a storyline slowly build up towards a certain event is one device used by the prophetic narrator to direct the reader’s attention to a given point (e.g. the Sinai revelation in Exodus 20). Repeating a teaching again and again is another literary device that the prophets used to underline a given teaching (e.g. the universal principles of justice and charity). Pointing back to a specific teaching, reiterating and elaborating, is yet another method that the prophets used to help us see the importance of a given truth (e.g. the Sinai revelation as per Deuteronomy 4).
The Church ignores the literary structure that is inherent in the Bible itself. Instead the Church presents its own version of the “highlights” of the Jewish Bible. These are passages or verses that, when read out of context, seem to support one Christian doctrine or another. The Church promotes the non-contextual reading of these solitary passages as if they were the central teachings of the Jewish Bible. The Church’s exaltation of the alleged “virgin birth” of Isaiah 7:14, is a perfect illustration of this strategy. A contextual reading of this verse will reveal that this prophecy has nothing to do with the Messiah and a correct translation will prove that there is no virgin mentioned in the verse. But in complete disregard for the literary structure of the Jewish Bible, the Church has for centuries pointed to this verse as if it were the climax of human history. By exalting this passage, the Church has successfully distorted the literary landscape of the Jewish Bible in the minds of many readers.
Through the implementation of these various strategies, the Church has endeavored to silence the voice of the Jewish prophets.
The Messianic Hope
The Jewish prophets taught the world to hope for a brilliant future. Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jeremiah have inspired mankind to look forward to a day when nation shall not lift sword against nation and the lion will lie with the lamb. This powerful message of hope has also been exploited by the Church.
The Jewish prophets presented this vision of hope for all mankind (Isaiah 54:5; Zephaniah 3:9). There is not one verse in all of the Jewish Bible that can be misconstrued to read as if the glory of the Messianic future is limited to those who have faith in one individual or another. The Jewish Scriptures presents a vision of universal peace that encompasses all of humanity.
The Church took this vision of universal peace and taught the world that it can only be accessed in her pews. According to Christian theology, the glory of the Messianic era is reserved for those who have placed their faith in Jesus. The Church has taken the glorious promise that rightfully belongs to all of humanity and has attempted to make it her own.
The Relationship That Man Shares With God
Every human being is entitled to a relationship with the Creator. The deepest yearning of the human soul is a desire to connect to the Creator. The only true possession that remains eternally yours is the relationship that exists between you and your Creator. The Church has exploited this relationship in order to further her own agenda.
God’s kindness and mercy encompasses all of His creations (Psalm 145:9). The fact that God created man in His own image is an expression of God’s love and respect towards every man and woman (Genesis1:27). The gift of existence, the gift of sight, the ability to think, and all of the myriads of details that embrace every aspect of human life, all articulate God’s incredible love for every human. There is nothing closer to our soul than the love of the One who called it into being to begin with. All we need to do is to focus on the blessings, recognize how we did nothing to deserve them, and we will learn to feel each moment of existence as an embrace from a loving Father.
People have an unhealthy tendency to focus on the negative. We tend to magnify what we don’t have and minimize what God has granted to us. Our minds easily lose sight of the fact that our existence is an undeserved gift and we fail to see our blessings for what they are; expressions of God’s love. Developing a relationship with God requires that we overcome these negative tendencies and shift our focus to the positive. We must teach ourselves to acknowledge God’s goodness inherent in every breath of existence and build in ourselves an outlook of gratitude towards the true source of all goodness.
Man also has a tendency to question God’s love. As humans, we all fall short of our own expectations and we often find our minds focusing on these failings. We recognize that God is holy and pure and our sense of guilt casts a pall of doubt on our relationship with God. God directly addressed this confusion through the teachings of the Jewish prophets. The prophets taught that God does not spurn a heart that turns to him with sincerity (Psalm 51:19; 145:18). The prophets passed on God’s encouraging words that He accepts sincere repentance (Isaiah 55:7; Ezekiel18:21; 33:16; Jonah3:10).
The Church exploited man’s longing to connect to God. The Church also capitalized on the feelings of inadequacy that man encounters in his struggle to develop a relationship with God.
Instead of invalidating these feelings of inadequacy and instead of encouraging man to overcome the psychological barriers as did the Jewish prophets, the Church took the exact opposite approach. Not only did the Church validate any feelings of inadequacy that frustrate man’s attempt to connect with God; the Church elevated those feelings to the level of theological doctrines. Not only did the Church discourage man’s attempt to overcome the obstacles that are encountered in approaching God; the Church taught that these obstacles are insurmountable.
The Church presented the claim that faith in Jesus is the magical answer to the psychological barriers that man encounters in his search for God. In effect the Church has taught mankind that the only way to satisfy the innate human yearning for God is through devotion to Jesus. Christianity has spread the lie that man’s deepest need can only be purchased through the agency of Jesus. According to the teachers of Christianity one must fully commit his or her soul to Jesus in order to be allowed into a relationship with God.
Your relationship with your Creator is the only possession that belonged to you before you were born. The Church would have you believe that you must purchase that which is intrinsically yours by giving Jesus your very life and soul.
A Final Travesty
The spread of Christianity was facilitated through the combination of universal truths and her own false doctrines. Within the past century certain Churchmen have realized that one of their doctrines is hampering the propagation of Christianity in the minds and hearts of one specific community. They then developed a new hybrid, a fresh mixture of truth and falsehood that was designed to promote Christianity within the confines of this one specific community. This hybrid goes by the name “Messianic Judaism”.
The Church’s effort to discredit the testimony of the Jew (after robbing the Jew of his prophets, his Bible and his covenant with God) was a successful means of spreading Christianity amongst non-Jewish people. By teaching the Gentiles that the Jews are God-killers and liars, the Church effectively prevented the Gentiles from listening to the testimony of God’s witness which proclaims that Jesus is NOT the Messiah promised to the Jews. But this teaching had an opposite effect on the Jewish community. Even those Jews who had strayed far from the core principles of Judaism were repelled by the Christian vilification of their people. The secular Jew might not have appreciated his own religious heritage but he certainly could not buy the myth that his own people were the most evil race on earth. This same myth that discredited the Jew in the eyes of the Gentile, served to discredit the Church in the eyes of the Jew.
In an effort to reverse the effects of this teaching in the Jewish community, some Church teachers created a new mixture. Instead of defining Christianity over and against Judaism, these teachers repackaged Christianity and presented it as the “true Judaism”. These teachers eschewed the familiar symbols of the Church; the cross, the steeple, Sunday worship and even the Latinized name; Jesus. Instead they substituted Jewish symbols; the Star of David, the synagogue, Friday night services and a Hebraic “Yeshua”. Instead of deriding the Jewish religion and her culture, these Churchmen exalted these and claimed them as their own.
Some Churchmen have taken this tactic one step further. Not only have they expropriated the cultural trappings of Judaism for herself, but they also usurped the religious observances of Judaism. These Christians observe the Jewish Sabbath as defined by Jewish law and they present their observance as the “complete and true” Judaism.
This lie must be exposed.
The heart of Judaism is the truth that every inhabitant of this earth is equally subservient to the One God who is above all of nature. When the Pagans bowed to various forces from within the natural realm, the Jew stood apart. When the Romans were deifying their emperors, The Jew would not participate. When the Europeans exalted royalty and nobility to a higher plane of existence, the Jew insisted on the equality of all men. And when the Church exalted the person of Jesus, the Jew refused to join.
All of the observances of Judaism point to this great truth and all of the Jewish culture is built around this great truth; that all men are equal before their common Creator. For 2000 years the Church has used every tool at her disposal to eradicate this concept from the heart of the Jew. These include but are not limited to; stripping the Jew of every civil right, locking the Jew into crowded ghettoes, taxing the Jew into poverty, physical torture, forced expulsions and often-times even killing the Jew. The Jew has endured all of these in order to remain loyal to the great truth that God had planted in her heart; that no man is lord of another but that all are equally subject to God.
The observances of Judaism were preserved through the Jew who rejected the Church’s claims for Jesus. Those who observed the Jewish Sabbath for the past 2000 years did so as a testimony that One God created all men; including the Christian Jesus. Those brave men and women, who preserved Judaism under the most terrible circumstances, identified the Christian deification of Jesus as the very antithesis of everything that they stood for.
2000 years of Jewish history cries out to these Churchmen: “Cease and desist!” Don’t usurp those observances that we preserved with our very life-blood and exploit them as a means to confuse our children! We lived and died for one truth and for one truth only; that there is but One God who is the Father of us all. Don’t steal the outer trappings of our heritage in your criminal effort to shut out our testimony from the ears of our children.
Concluding Statement
Since its inception, Christianity has presented a mixture of truth and falsehood. Sincere people have been misled into thinking that the universal truths are only available in the pews of the Church. God-fearing men and women have failed to distinguish between the truths that belong to everyone and the packaging of lies that Christianity has wrapped around these truths. But as humanity is moved inexorably towards the Messianic era, the truth must be disentangled for the web of lies that the Church has woven around them.
Mankind will recognize that the universal principles of justice and charity did not originate with the Church and that they need not be acquired through the agency of the Church. Humanity will learn to appreciate the universal message of the Jew that does not allow for the deification of an inhabitant of God’s earth. Men and women will learn to read the Jewish Bible without the slant that the Church has put on that holy book. All will recognize that the Messianic hope is God’s plan for all of humanity and is not limited to the narrow circle of “believers”. And finally and most importantly; every human being will learn to love their Creator without the medium of devotion to a fellow subject of God.
May it happen speedily and in our days.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Six Constant Mitzvahs - Don't be misled by your heart and eyes.


Six Constant Mitzvahs

by Rabbi Noah Weinberg

Cultivate the greatest possible relationship with the greatest possible benefits.

A "life goal" is one that brings you to a heightened state of being. For example, a businessman's goal is to be rich. Trading stocks or investing in real estate is the means to help accomplish that goal.

A similar formula applies to Judaism. The goal of Judaism is to cultivate the greatest possible relationship with God.

The 613 mitzvot are separate constructs which teach us about the reality of God's existence and how to live with that awareness.

Most of the 613 mitzvot in the Torah require the performance of a certain action - like giving charity, or eating matzah on Passover. These are the means to the end.

The "goal mitzvot" are the Six Constant Mitzvot. Rather than requiring the performance of a certain action, these mitzvot are a state of being, of living with the reality of God's existence.

The Six Constant Mitzvot are:

Know there is a God. Don't believe in other gods. God is one. Love God. Fear God. Don't be misled by your heart and eyes. Every moment of awareness is another occasion to actualize these goals. None of the other mitzvot has that same constant opportunity, and that's why the Six Constant Mitzvot are our priority. All the other mitzvot only build and bolster these goals.

INTELLECTUAL KNOWLEDGE OF GOD The first of the Ten Commandments declares: "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt" (Exodus 20:2).

This is the mitzvah to "Know there is a God."

The logic underlying this commandment seems difficult to understand. Someone who already observe God's commandments obviously believes in His existence -- so what need is there for a new command to do so? And if someone doesn't know that God exists, why should he listen to this command?!

So exactly who is this mitzvah for?

The answer is that we should not believe in God "on faith" alone. Investigate the evidence. Get knowledge. Research. Study. Analyze. It is a fundamental principle of Judaism: You have to know, not just believe.

EMOTIONAL TRUST "You shall know this day, and understand it in your heart, that the Almighty is God" (Deut. 4:39, the "Aleynu" prayer).

But there's more. It is not enough to intellectually know that God is in charge of everything. You must also know it in your heart. This emotional knowledge is much more profound, because it affects how a person actually conducts his life.

The circus performer is willing to walk the tightrope because he is confident there's a net below to catch him. Similarly, a child will jump down off a ledge into his father's arms, completely confident that his father will catch him.

The whole point of life is to strengthen your awareness of God. How do you know if you're really aware of God? Through trust. If you are, then you are willing to walk the tightrope, so to speak, or jump into your father's arms.

STEPS TO TRUST IN GOD Rebbeinu Bechaya, in his 12th century book of self-improvement, "Duties of the Heart" (Chovos Halevavos), describes four key steps to build trust in God:

Step one is to realize that the Almighty loves you with unbounded love. The closest thing we can compare this to is the love a parent has for a child. The Almighty is our Father in Heaven. His love for us exceeds all of the love in this world. Awareness of God is to live with this realization.

Deep down we know that God loves us. Anyone in trouble prays to God. This is true even of people who have ignored Him all their lives. As the saying goes, "there's no atheist in a foxhole." Even if you've done everything wrong, when you need your Father, He's there.

STEP TWO -- DIRECT LINE The U.S. Defense Department spends millions of dollars each year to send broadcast signals to distant stars, on the chance there's life out there. It may take 2,000 years for the signals to get there, but they're still listening 'round the clock.

If they ever get an answer -- even just a "hello" -- the whole world would be flabbergasted.

Have you ever had a prayer answered? Four out of five people will say "yes." The Creator of this universe has privately communicated with you. It's mind-boggling.

Most people whose prayer was answered didn't even know in which direction to send the signal! They simply said, "God, please help..." Five billion human beings, a whole galaxy of planets and stars -- and God answered this individual!

The mitzvah of belief in God means living with the reality that you're not alone. God's awareness and attention to every detail is constant. He picks up signals when you ask.

STEP THREE - HE DOES IT ALL If your parent gives you a dollar, you're actually diminishing his net worth -- even if he's a multi-millionaire. But if the Almighty gives you a billion dollars, it does not diminish His net worth. God has all the power. He created this universe from nothing. He can make you a genius. He can heal your child. He can do anything.

Think about how many miracles God made for you to breathe your first lungful of air. A fetus doesn't use lungs; it takes oxygen from the mother's blood. When a child is born, the baby has to breathe on its own and the whole biological system changes. A heart valve closes, the lungs inflate -- and it all has to fall into place at exactly at the right time.

Think about how much God has given you since you were born into this world. He is leading you every step of the way.

Everything God does for you is a gift. And whatever you want from God is nothing compared to what He's already given you. If you're asking for a billion dollars, it's nothing compared to a pair of eyes that He gave you for free.

God sustains the universe every second -- every creature, every blade of grass. God makes your heart pump. He provides your food. He created the sun with heat and light. There is nothing that can stop God. Your parents, teachers and boss are the delivery people. Every single thing you have is sent from God.

Knowing this gives you confidence to trust that God will continue to give you everything you need.

STEP FOUR -- BEST OF EVERYTHING God doesn't need anything from you. He doesn't need you to eat kosher food, or to observe Shabbat.

God only wants to give. Everything in the world is for our benefit.

So if God doesn't grant your desire, you have to ask yourself why. Why hasn't God given you 100 million dollars?

Maybe it's not good for you. Maybe you'd become arrogant, greedy, excessive. Maybe you'd hire others to accomplish your goals, and you'd miss out on making the effort to try.

God knows what's good for us. Trust in God means understanding that when He doesn't give you something, it's a message. He's trying to wake you up, to get you to reevaluate your goals.

Good parents do this with their children, too. A child wants five cookies; you give him one. Or you take him to the doctor to get a shot: The child is crying, "Why are you doing this to me?" But you know it's for his own good.

Anytime something bad happens, you have to ask yourself, "Why?" Understand that God knows what He's doing. He's trying to raise us up. He knows what's good for us and He wants us to have the best of everything.

GIVING UP WHEN THINGS GET TOUGH Man's self-destructive tendency (yetzer hara) overpowers him daily and threatens to kill him. Were it not for God's help, man would not survive. (Talmud - Kiddushin 30) Every single aspect of our existence depends on God. Whether we stand up, raise our hands, use our brain, do a mitzvah, or battle the desire to do the wrong thing, our ability is all a gift from God. We are powerless without Him.

It follows, then, that any goal is attainable if God gives us the power.

So how did the phrase "I can't" enter our lexicon?

The Talmud reports that Moses reprimanded the Jewish people: "When you stood at Mount Sinai, God asked, 'Who will insure that you will always fear God?' You should have replied 'Almighty, You will.' You should have seized the opportunity to request that God give you fear of Heaven."

The Jews wanted to be able to take full credit for their fear of Heaven, therefore they were reluctant to ask for it.

Had they understood that every single thing comes as a result of God's assistance, then they would have surely asked God for fear of Heaven, too.

This demonstrated a lack of gratitude and appreciation for all that God had done until then.

This desire to ignore God's role in our accomplishments and take credit for ourselves is what makes people say "This I can do, and this I can't." We avoid having to acknowledge that it's all a gift. We'd rather feel that we fought and accomplished on our own steam. So we say "I can't" -- when we'd rather not make the effort to do something difficult.

If we were truly grateful, if every morning we would thank the Almighty for our eyes, our hands, our brain, then we'd also thank the Almighty for insight and understanding, and we'd say, "Almighty, please give me more!" If we acknowledge that every accomplishment is from God, then we will realize there is nothing we cannot undertake... if God gives us the power.

RESPONSIBILITY TO CHANGE THE WORLD What can one person do? One person can accomplish anything and everything -- since it's all a gift from God anyway! Now we can understand why the Torah obligates each and every one of us to change the world.

The Code of Jewish Law (O.C. 1:3) says: "It is proper for all those who fear God to constantly be in pain and worry over the destruction of the Holy Temple." But why should we be expected to feel pain over something that happened 2,000 years ago?

The Talmud says: "Any generation in which the Holy Temple is not rebuilt, is held responsible for its destruction." In other words, if we don't take responsibility for improving ourselves and changing the world, then we are just as guilty as those whose deeds caused the Temple to be destroyed.

What can we do about it? Says the Talmud (Yoma 86b): "If one person does a sincere teshuva (return to God), then the whole world merits forgiveness."

The Jewish nation is one unit. Therefore the actions of one person can change the fate of the entire group. You -- one solitary individual -- have the power to change the entire world through teshuva. And since you have the power ... you also have the responsibility.

OPIATE OF THE MASSES? Marx said that "religion is the opiate of the masses." But Marx was talking about the religion that says: "Resist not evil, turn the other cheek."

Judaism, on the other hand, teaches people to stand up and take responsibility for the world. If anything, secularism is the opiate because it breeds inactivity.

Imagine asking the conquering Romans, "The Greeks are starving to death, isn't that terrible?" They'd say, "What are you talking about, that's the greatest news we've heard all week! Let's get the war machine out!"

Ask a typical college student: "Isn't it terrible that Africans are starving to death? What are you going to do about it?" He says, "What can I do about it? Who am I? I'm only one person. I can't do anything about it."

Without really believing in God, you'll just give up.

Judaism says you can do something. If you believe God's doing it all, if you see how much He's already done for you, then you know that God will help.

All you have to do is take the responsibility and make an effort. God will take care of the rest.

WE TRY, GOD DELIVERS Have you ever seen a building under construction? The builders use cranes to pick up an entire truckload of bricks, and then one or two men put their hands under the derrick and push the truckload into the right place.

An idiot sees two guys pushing a truckload of bricks and he thinks they're as strong as Hercules. A wise person understands it's the crane that's moving.

The Torah says explicitly that in the end of days, the Jewish people are going to return to God. And that's already happening.

The Jews have returned to Israel, which is mind-boggling. We've witnessed incredible miracles in Israel -- whether the War of Independence, the Six Day War, the Gulf War. We've lived with miracles. The Almighty is bringing us home. The crane is moving.

People sometimes say, "I'd love to make aliyah to Israel, but I don't have the money." What's the solution? I tell them, put one dollar a week into a separate bank account. They look at me like I'm crazy. "What are you talking about -- that's $52 a year. In 10 years, I'll have $520. What will that do for me?!" I tell them, if you put in a dollar a week, the Almighty will see that you're sincere and He'll take care of the rest.

Those of you who've begun learning Torah or keeping Shabbos: Remember how hard it was when you first started? Now when you look back and see the progress you've made, isn't it true that you were putting one dollar in the bank? You were making the effort, and the Almighty led you to your goal.

THE BUCKET AND THE MOUNTAIN The Midrash says the wise person and the fool are both told, "Take this Torah and learn it all." The fool looks at the Torah and says, "That's like trying to move a mountain into the sea! Even if I work all day and night, I couldn't possibly finish it " So what does he do? He fills one bucket of dirt, and then he lies down to go to sleep.

The wise person says, "I get paid by the bucket. If I make an effort, I get paid. I can't imagine how I'm going to move this mountain into the sea, but if the Almighty said do it, I might as well try." So he takes a bucket and puts it in the sea; another bucket and puts it into the sea; another bucket ...

"Hey, meshugena, what are you doing?" yells the fool.

"Listen, I'm getting paid," answers the wise person. And he keeps going. Another bucket into the sea. Until he comes to a stone. He pushes that stone which starts a landslide and the whole mountain crumbles and flows into the sea.

That's what we're doing. One dollar a week. The mountain will go into the sea.

God is your Father, Creator of this universe. He wants to give you everything. By making the effort, you're allowing Him to do it. You're accepting it. See how much He had done for you until now. He wants to do much more. Just keep on putting that bucket into the sea; one dollar a week in the bank. The rewards are waiting.

GOD GAVE US THE ABILITY The Torah says that accomplishing all of Torah is near to us, very much within our reach (Deut. 30:14).

Our problem is that we don't want to try. We don't make the effort.

If you heard about a business opportunity that would bring you millions, is there any limit to how far you'd go to make it work? If I said I'd give you a million dollars if you'll memorize one page of the phone book by next week, could you do it?

Realize that the reward for even one mitzvah is worth more than anything you can earn in this world. So don't look at the effort as a pain; look at it as an opportunity. You have the ability to be great, and there's nothing better you can do with your energy.

The Midrash (Tanna d'Bei Eliyahu) tells the story of Elijah the Prophet meeting up with a fisherman. "Do you study Torah?" Elijah asked. "No," replied the fisherman, "I'm just a simple man. I am not endowed with any measure of talent or intelligence."

"Tell me," said Elijah, "how do you prepare your fishing net?" "Well," said the man, "It's actually quite complicated. First I have to select the proper gauge rope, and then I have to weave the net in a particular pattern to ensure that it has the proper balance of strength and flexibility."

"How do you go about actually catching the fish?" inquired Elijah. "Oh," said the man, "that, too, is quite complex. There are many factors involved -- including season of the year, time of day, type of fish, water depth, temperature, and speed of the current."

"When you get to heaven," said Elijah, "you will testify that you didn't study Torah because you're just a simple man, not endowed with any talent or intelligence? But do you think He gave you the brains to be a fisherman -- but not the brains to learn Torah?!"

The fisherman realized that Elijah was right. He was devastated and began to cry inconsolably.

Elijah told him: "Don't be so upset. I'll tell you a little secret. Everyone uses this excuse in one way or another. We all expect that we're going to get upstairs and say, 'Almighty, I wanted to change the world; I wanted to know all of Torah; I wanted to love humanity. But you didn't give me enough intelligence, strength or personality.' And the Almighty will turn to each one of us and say 'Your actions contradict your words. When it came to something you cared about, whether making money or building a home, then you figured out how to do it. You became an expert. But obviously Torah didn't concern you enough.'"

That's our problem. We don't take Torah seriously. The constant mitzvah of "know there is a God" means that changing the world is our responsibility. And because God's power is behind us, we are not absolved from making the effort.

UNLIMITED RESOURCES "Open your mouth and I will fill it." (Psalms) The Chofetz Chaim (20th century Poland) says: If you're going out to raise money, the amount you ask from people depends on their status. If you're speaking to a newspaper vendor, you're not going to ask him for $500; the guy is struggling. But if you ask for a penny, you'll insult him. So you ask for $50. He'll argue a bit, and if he gives you $20, you did okay.

Ask the successful businessman for $5 and you're insulting him. Ask him for a million dollars and he says you're crazy. So you ask for $5,000, you have an argument, you come out with $500, and you've done well.

Now you come to the billionaire. (If he gives you an appointment!) If you ask for $500, you're wasting his time. So you ask for $5 million, you argue back and forth, he gives you $500,000, and you've done well.

When you approach God, don't insult Him. He is your father. He loves you. He's the Creator of this universe. What's a billion dollars? Says God: "Open your mouth and I'll fill it."

If you pay attention to the Jewish prayers, you'll see that we ask God for everything -- food, sustenance, health, family, wisdom, Torah, Israel, peace, spirituality, and mitzvot. That's how a Jew prays. God wants to give you everything.

IT'S ALL FOR THE GOOD If you really understand that the Almighty loves you and has all the power, then when something doesn't go your way, you'll want to know why. Because everything that God does is for our good. He never gets angry. He never punishes you. He never takes revenge. Everything is for our benefit. Sometimes we don't find out until a little later...

The Talmud tells the story of Rebbe Akiva, who was a student of Rav Nachum Ish Gamzu -- whose very name means "also this is for the good." Rebbe Akiva was once travelling to a distant town. He had a rooster to wake him up, a donkey to ride on, and some candles for light. As night began to fall, he arrived at a village and all the hotels were full for the night. He had no place to sleep. So he went to the forest to camp out. As he was studying Torah, a wind blew out his candle, leaving him in the dark. Shortly after that, a lion came and devoured his donkey. And then a cat came and ate his rooster.

There was Rebbe Akiva, alone in the forest and he'd just lost everything! But he said, "Also this must be for the good."

Rebbe Akiva got up in the morning and continued his journey on foot. He passed through the village and learned, to his horror, that a band of marauders had come in the night, burned down the village, murdered the people and took all their possessions.

"I now see how God protected me. Had I gotten a hotel room, they would have taken me too. Or my horse would have neighed, or my rooster would have crowed, or the bandits would have found me by my candlelight. Everything God does is for the good."

God created this world and gave us a Torah. Why did He do it? It's all a beautiful gift. Be grateful. And if you make the effort to attempt even the impossible, God will surely help.